Did you know that drawing, among other forms of creative activity can help reduce stress? It’s true! Studies have shown that people who practice various forms of art experience reduced levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The best part is that you do not need to be an “artist” to experience these benefits. I want to introduce you to one of my favorite exercises for reducing stress through art. I call this a Stress Transformation Drawing. It borrows from a few different sources and combines to create a practice that has helped me calm my own stress time and time again. I hope you will enjoy it too!
My stress transformation drawings blends ideas from Neurgraphic Art, Zentangle, and Kindergarten Scribble Art to create a truly relaxing drawing experience that is open and accessible to anyone, at anytime.
- Pen/Pencil/Crayon/Marker or anything you wish to draw with
- Paper, any kind
- Colored pens, markers, crayons… (Optional)
- First, imagine in your mind something that is currently causing you stress. Close your eyes and allow yourself to spend just a few seconds feeling that stress as you imagine its root cause.
- Now pick up a writing utensil. It can be a pencil, pen, marker, crayon, or anything you have on hand. While you are imagining the stressful situation allow yourself to scribble all over your piece of paper. This should take between 5-10 seconds. I like to do this part with my eyes closed, but do whatever feels comfortable to you.
- Now we are going to transform your stress scribble into a new image. This can be done in many ways. In Neurographic art they talk a lot about rounding out sharp corners. I find this to be very relaxing so I generally start with that. Another option is to rework some or all of your lines. You can go back over them, varying the line thickness or color. Next you might want to look at the spaces that you created. You can begin to fill them up with colors or Zentangle like patterns. Simple line or circle patterns can be a fun way to fill up spaces. You can color the shapes in like you might have colored a coloring book as a child, perhaps certain shapes begin to jump out at you reminding you of something specific similar to an inkblot test … There is no wrong way to do this. It might look different each time you practice. The basic Idea is to slowly transform your stress drawing into something new.
Other Tips To Try
- Play calming music as you work.
- Notice your breath as you are drawing. Does it begin to change at all form the time you began your stress scribble to the time you are transforming your drawing?
- Tune into your senses, try to focus on the sounds you hear as you draw, or the way your pen/pencil feels in your hand. Is there a noticeable scent associated with the paper or perhaps a marker?
- Experiment with different materials or techniques. Try out different colors, patterns, or maybe try painting the shapes. Follow your curiosity and see where it takes you!